From the Archives: Treating Opioid Addiction

It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide; the US government estimates that 2.1 million people in the United States have substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and another 467,000 are addicted to heroin. Consequences include a spike in the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers (including the recent death of the musician Prince), and growing evidence to suggest a relationship between increased non-medical use of opioid analgesics and heroin abuse in the US.

OBrien_Charles_featWhat can we do to help? This spring, Charles O’Brien and colleagues reported results of the latest in a series of studies testing the drug naltrexone as a preventive against opioid relapse in people greatly at risk for relapse: formerly addicted convicts. “This U.S. multisite, open-label, randomized effectiveness trial showed that among adult offenders who had a history of opioid dependence, the rate of relapse was lower among participants assigned to extended-release naltrexone than among those assigned to usual treatment,” they write.

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Former Dana Grantee’s Newly Published Study Hailed as the ‘Future of Bioelectronic Medicine’

Tracey_KevinThe Wall Street Journal recently highlighted former Dana grantee Kevin Tracey’s latest research.  The July 8th article, “The Future of Bioelectronic Medicine,” detailed Tracey’s newly published study, which is the first in-human investigation of implanted electronic devices as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing chronic swelling, inflammation, and joint pain.  The drugs currently used to manage the disease are not always effective, leaving many patients looking for other treatment options.  Continue reading

Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

It’s not a common household word, or a name that spends a lot of time in the limelight, but myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that affects approximately 20 out of 100,000 people in the US. According to experts at the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA), this disease is “considered under-diagnosed and the prevalence is thought to be much higher.” With June being Myasthenia Gravis Awareness month, our goal is to help inform the public about the disease by sharing verified facts and resources for further information.

The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means “grave muscle weakness.” It is often referred to as “the snowflake disease” because no two cases are identical. The degree of muscle weakness and general symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient, but common signs include drooping of the eyelid, blurred or double vision, slurred speech, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. The neuromuscular disorder is caused by a breakdown in the normal communication between nerves and muscles, and muscle weakness tends to worsen as the affected muscle is used repeatedly. While MG can affect people at any age regardless of gender or ethnicity, women most commonly experience first symptoms in their 20s and 30s while men are generally affected later in their 70s or older. Avoiding stress and having a well-balanced diet can help improve conditions.

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June Report on Progress: Stroke Treatment

This month’s Report on Progress focuses on advances in stroke treatment and therapy. Strokes can have a variety of neurological effects on the body like difficulty speaking, loss of consciousness and sudden death. The article, written by Xuefang Ren, M.D., and James W. Simpkins, Ph.D., discusses current treatments, explains how strokes occur, and underscores the need to develop more effective therapies.

Stroke, the most common medical emergency, is a cerebrovascular accident that can cause death and long-term disability. Over 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes, when a clot lodges in an artery supplying blood to the brain and the blood flow is reduced or blocked. A small percentage, caused by rupture of brain blood vessels, are called hemorrhagic strokes. Stroke risk factors are well known and include high blood pressure, elevated lipids, diabetes, smoking, heavy drinking, coronary artery disease, heart diseases, etc.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dana Launches New Cerebrum Podcast

E-May-Epilepsy

For almost a year, we’ve featured the authors of our monthly Cerebrum articles in a Q & A. With the May Cerebrum article, “A New Approach for Epilepsy,” we are transitioning to a podcast.

Why are we taking this new approach? We suspect that visitors to the website, with already quite a bit to read, will welcome an audio option. We also think it will be valuable to hear some of the top researchers in the field offer their opinions and explain some of the complex biological, neurochemical, or genetic advances that they write about in Cerebrum, the Dana Foundation’s research-based publication.

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